WAAY 31 talked to sheriff elect, Kevin Turner, about his plans for the Madison County Sheriff's Office. Turner said his biggest hurdle will be securing the manpower the department needs.
Volunteer at the sheriff's office, Pat Colson, agrees. Colson started volunteering with the office in 1996 and has worked alongside Sheriff Blake Dorning since the beginning of his 15-year tenure.
"The sheriff's department is so understaffed," Colson said. "They have such a large area to cover and so few people to cover it."
Turner shares her concern, however, he said the problem isn't new.
"We have to do better as far as having manpower," Turner said. "Back in '91, '92 when I started it was a problem. Now it's the same thing. The county's growing so fast," Turner said.
Turner is the former chief investigator in the Madison County District Attorney's Office and served 18 years as the head of the gang task force. He said he plans to let his experience with stopping street crime guide his decision making, but it all comes back to his office getting enough funding to hire more deputies.
"When we do that, you can add more men to the narcotics unit. It's going to take more drugs off of the street. It's going to target our violent offenders," Turner said.
Another issue on the minds of both Colson and Turner is school safety.
"I think that's most important that we protect our young people," Colson said.
Turner said he knows there's room for improvement.
"The resource officers in the schools, we're not full staff on that," Turner said.
However, this is one issue he said he won't let suffer because of the budget.
"If we can't, if the numbers don't allow it, those kids are still going to be safe. I don't care what we gotta do as far as putting the man power there, or at least putting the patrol deputies in the area," Turner said.
Turner will be sworn into the sheriff's office in January. He said the department is set to hire 10 more deputies in March, which would bring their total number of deputies to around 130.